Threshold Pharmaceuticals (THLD) provided a solid return (+47%), although my comments -- "I don't have a strong view...but I lean negative" -- should have been stronger. Now that Celgene's Abraxane has produced positive pivotal data in pancreatic cancer while Threshold has yet to initiate a Phase III trial, it's hard to see how the company gets back on track.
I'm very proud of my work identifying major problems with Bristol-Myers Squibb's (BMY) BMS-094, a nucleoside polymerase inhibitor, or "nuc," for the treatment of Hep C. Bristol-Myers' $2.5 billion acquisition of Inhibitex (from where BMS-094 originated) proved a complete zero in less than seven months. I'm not sure if that's a mergers-and-acquisition disaster record, but it's probably close. Nonetheless, the stock has hardly budged. Astonishing.
After looking in detail at the chemical structure of Idenix Pharmaceuticals' (IDIX) "nuc" inhibitor IDX-184 in the wake of the Bristol-Myers disaster, I quickly warned investors to "reduce or eliminate long exposure to Idenix until the drug's safety has been more completely established." A few weeks later, the FDA issued a "clinical hold" for IDX-184 and a chemically related development compound. Shares have plunged 41% since my warning. Bullet dodged.
Clovis Oncology (CLVS) is another example of how staying on the sidelines can sometimes be the safest move. Although I couldn't muster sufficient conviction to recommend the stock as a short, I warned that CO-101, the company's lead drug candidate, faced significant clinical risk. The company recently announced that LEAP, the Phase III trial of CO-101 in pancreatic cancer, failed completely. Shares have dropped 51% since my late February column.Lastly, we come to ever-popular Arena Pharmaceuticals (ARNA) and Vivus (VVUS), the ever-trusty sidekick and competitor. Many of Arena's rabid investors -- the Areniacs -- seem to thrive on a fact-free diet that guarantees a steady supply of tasty taunts and bullish morsels. Let's set the record straight.
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